It’s a special day in New York state as we recognize our local farmers. 

Most of the state’s farmers are located in the Finger Lakes region, whether that’s in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wyoming, or Yates counties. Those farmers make up about 30% of the state’s total farm sales, but there are so many local farmers in Erie County as well, and you probably had an opportunity to meet a lot of them at the Erie County Fair. 

According to the 2017 census from the United States Department of Agriculture, there were 33,438 farms in New York State and nearly 7 million acres in production. 

Right here in New York, it is estimated that our farms employ over 55,000 people.  

The best part about New York farms…is that 98% of them are family-owned, according to the New York Farm Bureau. 

There are ways to celebrate our local farmers, and while we should do what we can for them every day, here are some of the ways that you can show your thanks to local farmers today:

  • Thank all the farmers & ranchers you know.
  • Reflect on the time and energy farmers spend to bring us food.
  • Remember the contributions they have made to the success of the United States.
  • Purchase produce, eggs, and meat from farmers at a farmers market.
  • Visit a pick-your-own farm and pick pumpkins, berries, apples, other vegetables, and flowers.
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture. 
  • Find a local harvest festival or festival dedicated to farmers to attend (see the list of nearby Harvest Festivals here
  • Read a book about the history of agriculture.

Unfortunately, only about 2% of Americans are farmers. And the average age of a farmer today is 57 and a half years old, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which means we have to start now when it comes to teaching the new generation of farmers. 

And thanks to the Erie County Fair, school students are becoming more aware of the agricultural careers options that they could pursue. 

The Erie County Fair will select recipients for the Erie County Agricultural Society Scholarship every year. The scholarship is awarded to students who are pursuing a career in agriculture or ag-related fields. Students must be enrolled in an accredited university for Fall and must be able to explain how their course of study will help them to achieve a career in agriculture. 

The 2023 winners are listed below: 

  • Holly Niefergold of Lawtons, NY.
  • Aubrey Gerhardt of East Aurora, NY.
  • Jessica Engel of Springville, NY.
  • Jennifer Hoelscher of Eden, NY.
  • Alison McNamara of East Aurora, NY.
  • Allison Gabel of Lawtons, NY.
  • Ella Wierzba of Boston, NY.

Farmers are so important to our society, and we’re lucky to have so many of them in New York!

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